Be Careful Out There!

Dick Fincher is a longtime Westporter. He cares deeply about this town, and everyone in it. He writes:

The other day, driving west on the Post Road I had the green light to turn left onto Sherwood Island Connector.  As I began turning I saw an adult (in age) male bicyclist, facing a red light, come straight on through against the turning traffic. I had to stop to avoid colliding with him.

Fifteen minutes later I was driving north on Compo Road South, toward Longshore. Two adult female cyclists blew through two consecutive stop signs with nary a pause.

These people are either stupid, feel fully entitled or have a death wish.  Unfortunately, their disregard for traffic regulations is not uncommon. In fact, it is typical of what I frequently see and must deal with while driving.

The weather is great. Bikers are out in force — sharing the road with drivers, joggers, walkers, stroller-pushers, rollerbladers and tons of other folks.

We all must look out for ourselves — and each other. Much as we’d wish otherwise, we’re not the only ones on the road.

Westport roads sometimes seem like this.

Westport roads sometimes seem like this.

19 responses to “Be Careful Out There!

  1. “We’re not the only ones on the road”. Truism.
    Heck, one of my roads looks like the picture above on any given weekend, year round.
    You either learn to be patient and share the road, or learn to take a different route.
    It’s not rocket science.

    • Wendy Cusick

      Ms. Hunter They’re Blowing Through Red Lights in Highly Traveled Roads and Major Arteries. If they were a car they would have been HIT by another car either hurt or killed. Fairfield, CT police set up a speed screen to check your speed in a 25 mph zone…. Well the cyclist that blew by me Made The Screen Flash 45 mph!. They don’t take notice of cars with their Blinkers on to make a turn. They blow right past! Example: drive down RT 136 from Norwalk into Westport take right turn to railroad station, blinker on…Zoom Close Call. You have no idea how many I’ve nearly Creamed. And I’m patient and look around too…. Things are different over on the West Coast in BC, Canada than in the Northeast Corridor. In the last ten years or less, it’s gotten some much worse and more traffic. Seriously, It’s amazing how no one has gotten killed or injured. NOW the Cyclist who Obeys the Law nearly get creamed by the Entitled/Distracted/Don’t Care Drivers.

  2. Tara Fanuko

    Finally someone tells the truth about the cyclists. As drivers we are told to share the road but I have had many incidents where riders have put both themselves and me in danger. Safety works both ways.

  3. Matt Murray

    Sadly, what Mr. Fincher experienced is the rule, not the exception. And heaven forbid you point out the transgression to a cyclist. As one of our former Selectmen found out a few years ago: he was berated by the cyclist for telling him he was wrong.
    Of note there will be 2,600 cyclists on the roads of Westport and other towns for an event (race to some of them) tomorrow (Sunday 5/31/2015). If you have concerns please let the Selectmen, and/or Chief of Police, Captain Dale Call (or even call in on the non-emergency line to let the dispatcher know of an issues: 203-341-6000) about any concerns.

  4. Twice within 20 minutes I had other cars approaching me swerve completely over the solid line into my lane to avoid a cyclist who thought he was above using the bike lane. Both incidents could very easily caused a head on. The disregard for traffic laws in Westport (by both bikers and drivers) is all too common.

    • Iain Bruce

      With the exception of South Compo Road between the Post Road and Greens Farms Road, there are NO designated bike lanes in Westport. None. Zip. Nada. Zero. Not a one. And the ostensible bike lane on South Compo is worse than unrideable, it is extremely dangerous: full of huge fissures, potholes, drains, sand, and debris. Cyclists are required to ride as far the right as practicable, but they have the right, by law, to use as much of the road as is necessary. In most of Westport, in fact most of Fairfield County, cyclists have no choice but to share the lane with drivers. Cars are required by law to give at least three feet of distance when passing a cyclist. Cars are allowed to cross the yellow centre line, but only when they have clear sight and it is safe to do so.

      The fault in the incidents cited above lies 100% with the driver passing the cyclists into oncoming traffic.

      Sharing the road is not that difficult, but it does call for some patience on the part of drivers. There is enough horsepower under the hood of the smallest car to more than make up for the short delay of following a cyclist for a few seconds until it is safe to pass. And cyclists do not want to impede traffic if they can avoid it. Patience and understanding on both sides would go a long way.

  5. So very true….see it all the time.

  6. Werner liepolt

    Three feet is the required legal distance an automobile must give a cyclist.

    • Randy Shuken

      I have never seen a bicyclist texting and riding…and have had more close calls driving in Westport with distracted or disgruntled drivers than I care to mention. Maybe the drivers should clean up their act before lashing out at bicyclists.

      • Jerry MacDaid

        Interestingly, I have seen bicyclists texting or at least playing with their phones, iPods or whatever, while riding. Sort of the “look Ma, no hands” thing but with the added distraction of not paying attention to where they are going. I also see a lot of bicyclists with earbuds plugged in largely oblivious to sound cues around them. I do wonder if this subset of bicyclists, who are generally in the minority, are shooting for Darwin awards.

  7. Sharon Paulsen

    I have also witnessed the OPPOSITE of reckless bicyclists. Many DO obey the basics of traffic laws (myself included), and do seem to stay aware of their surroundings.
    And I’ve personally made it a point to be a defensive driver, and assume that mistakes will be made by those on bikes (and pedestrians too), so a little patience and awareness is worth the attention given, no matter how frustrating it can sometimes be.
    Seems like almost everyone is just a little too rushed, too distracted, and too absorbed (drivers and bikers and pedestrians alike), so if we can just pull back and chill for just a moment, catastrophes can be avoided.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re not gonna get royally pissed off at some dumb-ass on the road, LOL!

  8. Jack Whittle

    I agree with the,sentiment expressed by Mr. Fincher, and easily discard the notion that “the fault lies with driver” of the car.

    To be sure, bicyclists have rights under CT law, and these are even more important (and relevant) when there is no dedicated bike lane, which is most often the case on every road in CT and across the nation. Most importantly, cars must give them space to ride on the active roadway. But they cannot demand that their rights be respected while simultaneously disregarding the laws that apply to them and other vehicles. Certainly, respecting stop signs and traffic lights is a no-brainer, but every bicyclist seems to believe that such basic traffic laws don’t apply to them, or should only be observed when heavy traffic is present. Ever see a bicyclist stop at a deserted stop sign? Ever see a driver NOT stop at a deserted stop sign?

    They will never be given respect by drivers if they continue to ignore the laws they also wish to point to as giving them rights.

  9. Michael Alpert

    Bicyclists are no better or worse than drivers. I’ve biked these roads for years and have been a little reckless at times, but so too have many many drivers. I’ve been run off the road. Yelled at for not being in a breakdown lane filled with glass, potholes, tree branches and roadkill.

    This is an issue that is not going to go away and requires patience and common sense on both sides.

    Not all bikers behave badly in the same way not every driver texts while driving or is incredibly rude in the way in which they park.

    Life is pretty good for most of us around here, so let’s just all chill out and relax.

    • I’m not sure anyone is suggesting that but let me also just say that on a day this past April, I encountered two separate intersections (Compo Road, Cross Highway) where bikers blew through the stop signs as I was proceeding forward. They are lucky I saw them and was able to stop in the middle of the intersection just in time. This had nothing to do with bike lanes, so there’s no real excuse for it.

  10. Donna Smirniotopoulos

    I was just walking my dog in my own neighborhood, only to be scolded by a Bloomin’ Metric race marshall for walking on the “wrong side of the street”. My dog was so terrified of the bikes, she wouldn’t walk the other direction with the bikes zooming up into her. Also I walk on the right going past a house with dogs just to keep things peaceful on the walk.

    I don’t blame the cyclists so much as the organizers. The participants in this event are mostly nice recreational cyclists. But the organizers could put a little more thought into how they route the courses. EVERY route goes through my neighborhood of Meeker Road, one of the narrowest, curviest and windiest streets in town. Meanwhile NO ROUTE goes through either South Compo or North Avenue, and both of those roades HAVE BIKE LANES!

  11. Bobbie Herman

    On my way to the Unitarian Church this morning, I drove through the Bloomin’ Metric route — Sturges Highway and Meeker Road. The cyclists seemed to be looking for an accident. Many of them were riding in groups of two or three across or riding in the center of the road. I beeped my horn lightly when approaching them and got the finger a couple of times. I belonged to the group sponsoring the ride (Sound Cyclists) many years ago and we were taught road courtesy and safety, such as riding single file and dismounting and walking your bike when making a left turn. Apparently, that doesn’t count any more. Cyclists are supposed to obey traffic rules.

    • Donna Smirniotopoulos

      Sound Cyclists must be a very different organization today than the one you remember from years ago. Inconveniencing everyone and everything seems to be their governing rule.

  12. Donna Smirniotopoulos

    Bloomin’ Metric is too big an event, especially when all 2600 participants are funneled up and down Meeker Road in the span of 6 hours. Ridiculously unsafe and disrespectful of the people who actually live in the neighborhood. I couldn’t cross Meeker to get back to my own street because of the bikes. So much for cyclists observing basic traffic and safety rules and being considerate of pedestrians. Even the race marshalls didn’t seem to have a clue about what respect and consideration for the neighborhood required.

  13. Elise Russi

    I live in Westport, am an avid cyclist, but do not cycle in Westport. It is too dangerous here. Cars blow through stop signs and red lights all the time in Westport. As Ian Bruce points out, there are almost no bike lanes in Westport and very little shoulder area that is free from storm drains and other hazards for cyclists. Instead, I head north into Weston, Redding and Easton where the drivers of cars and cyclists seem to respect each other and look out for one another.